Biden goes to Ukraine in show of support for the government
Vice President Joe Biden is on his way to Kiev to meet with Ukraine's temporary leaders and discuss ways to implement the Geneva deal agreed to last week,
Unfortunately, the deal is already dead thanks to continuing violence in the east and the refusal of pro-Russian militias to give up government buildings they have been occupying.
White House officials say Biden will discuss the international community's efforts to help Ukraine move forward on constitutional reform, and for what Obama administration officials say will be a free and fair presidential election on May 25.
The talks will also focus on the situation in eastern Ukraine where an Easter Sunday truce barely lasted a few hours before it was shattered by a gunfight at a checkpoint in the pro-Russian city of Slavyansk. Three people were killed. It is not clear exactly what happened.
Ukraine blames the attack on Russian special forces. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accuses the Ukrainian government of not wanting to control extremists who he says are shooting unarmed civilians.
Lavrov said Monday Ukraine is "crudely" violating last week's Geneva agreement calling on all armed illegal groups in the east to disarm and leave. The agreement also calls for a mission by European monitors.
However, pro-Russian demonstrators who have taken over government buildings in about a dozen eastern Ukrainian cities have so far showed no sign of backing down.
Lavrov said the United States must recognize its responsibility for the crisis in Ukraine through its support of the new Ukrainian government.
He said attempts to isolate Russia thorough sanctions will fail, saying the majority of the world does not want to isolate Russia.
The pro-Russian demonstrators in Ukraine are demanding the right to hold referendums on splitting with Ukraine and joining with Russia. A vote last month in Crimea led to the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula.
If, as many in the west suspect, the pro-Russian militias are getting direct assistance from the Russian military, their refusal to vacate government buildings means that Putin wants to extend this crisis to keep the heat on Kiev. The Geneva agreement contained no incentive for Putin to comply. He could agree to anything knowing that his allies on the ground in Ukraine would continue their agitation while the Kiev government was constrained from unleashing the military, fearing a Russian response.
Biden's trip is more of a morale booster for the Ukrainian government than anything else. He's certainly not bringing news of military support from Washington. Perhaps it's enough that he's helping Ukraine define the terms of their surrender.